I know, I’m blogging a bit about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing a bit much, but it’s been an obsession of mine for the last few days. I honestly find the whole debate fascinating. Which way will it go? Will publishers drop like flies? Is self-publishing viable? And so on and so forth.
In all of this, there is one thing that has stood out to me. Multi-level marketing. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been suckered into going to these meetings or parties, or whatever they are calling themselves nowadays, more than once. It usually stems from having a friend that’s doing it, and I don’t want to be rude by saying no. Yes, I torture myself.
They all have one thing in common: enthusiasm. But it’s not just a nice amount of enthusiasm; it’s a truckload, and they run you over with it. They try to get you to get so hyped up about it that you’ll join up with dreams of being super rich and going on these company vacations on yachts in the Bahamas where only the top sellers can attend. Or a pink car. They also like to pull out copies of other people’s insanely huge checks and tell you, “this could be your name!”
When I read about all these success stories in self-pubbing, that’s kind of how I feel. Not because I don’t believe in their success, or that I’m not happy for them. I do, and I am. But go to enough of these MLM meetings, and you quickly become a skeptic on anything that remotely stinks of it. I’m being bombarded with all these stories of the now-wealthy authors that it’s kind of gotten to that point. The excitement has gotten so hyped and huge, and I see people getting carried away on that wave of dollar signs that I can’t help but feel that way.
I understand that self-pubbing isn’t MLM, and I’m not actually comparing it to MLM. It’s the feeling and tone I’m comparing it to. This whole campaign for self-pubbing sure is starting to sound like the same sales pitch. The enthusiasm has gotten to such heights that I simply can’t bring myself to not imagine the MLM marketing pitches or the Shady Preacher/Healer on the Pulpit scenarios. With shouts of “I’m a believer!” coming out of the woodwork, how can I not?
Let me also say that it has not affected my decision-making process, and I most definitely don’t blame anyone for their excitement. I would be excited, too, and I would probably be shouting it from the rooftops with them. So don’t think I’m judging anyone. I still don’t know what I plan to do when I’m done with my wip.
I believe that many people are doing very well with self-pubbing. I also believe that many aren’t. There are plenty of factors that determine why a self-pubber can or will do well. The most important thing, and I think this holds true for self or trade published, is the writing. Right now, I’m just hoping I’m good enough to do well, whichever way I choose.
I hope all self-pubbers do well. Who knows, I might be one of them someday. I also want to be able to support myself comfortably as a writer—what writer doesn’t? But are writers riding that wave into a cliffside? Is it just too early to know what kind of long term success anyone will have? I’m sure if you asked the successful ones they’d tell you, “Well, at least I made money while it lasted, which is more than what someone that didn’t do it got.” Which would be true, of course. Maybe these aren’t even viable questions.
I think it’s all this talk about money that is affecting my delicate senses. Writers want to earn a nice living, because it frees us up to write more, and it’s great to know there is hope for that, but have we lost some semblance of propriety in the process? Hard to say since money is an important aspect of life. We all gotta pay the bills. And it’s not like I’m not interested in knowing the details of how well they are doing.
I guess it’s just one of those things where you want to know but feel like it’s an incredible intrusion in someone’s private matters. We’ve always been taught that it’s impolite to ask. Now we are faced with a lot of people just offering it up, and we’re taking it all in, and then rifling through their underwear drawer. When inappropriate suddenly becomes appropriate, I have a hard time switching gears.